Milton W. Garland, fresh out of Worcester (Mass.) Polytechnic Institute, began working for Frick Co. in the refrigeration department in 1920 for 47 cents an hour. Born in 1895 in Harrisburg, Pa., Garland delivered newspapers and worked in a motorcycle shop before going off to college, where he paid his way by managing two apartment buildings. This involved shoveling snow, firing furnaces, collecting tenant garbage and other maintenance work, while studying full-time. He also took time out from school to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War I.
At Frick, Garland worked as a field installer of refrigeration systems for three years before being appointed superintendent of installation. He retired from the company as vice president for technical services in 1967, but they hired him back the next day.
Over his long career, Milton W. Garland was awarded 41 patents for innovations in industrial refrigeration equipment and practices. When the Hoover Dam was being built in the 1930s, he designed a way to cool the 4.5 million cubic yards of concrete necessary for the massive project. Without that innovation, the region’s terrible heat would have made it virtually impossible to successfully pour concrete in such volume.
During World War II, Garland developed systems to produce huge quantities of dry ice, allowing fresh food to be more easily shipped to American troops overseas. In addition, he served as a consultant at Goodyear Aircraft Corp. and aircraft engine builder Pratt & Whitney, and worked for the Atomic Energy Commission and the Army’s all-weather lab at Fort Belvoir, Va.
During his so-called retirement from Frick, Garland worked 20 hours a week, evaluating thousands of new patents to see if they could be applied to refrigeration, while also organizing a training school for Frick’s engineers. At the age of 102, he published an engineering design manual. He was still conducting training classes and coordinating certain overseas activities four weeks prior to his death at age 104, in 2000.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning named Garland “Mr. Refrigeration” in 1996, and he was presented with the “Oldest Worker in America” award in 1998. He got a pilot’s license at age 60 and flew until he was 75, and was still playing golf at 99. Milton W. Garland was a highly motivated and unusual man. FC